updated 8/27/2004 4:27:07 PM ET 2004-08-27T20:27:07

A new postage stamp calling attention to sickle cell disease will be issued next month.

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The first day of the stamp’s release will be Sept. 29, the U.S. Postal Service said Friday, with ceremonies in Atlanta at the annual convention of the Sickle Cell Disease Association. The stamp will go on sale nationwide the following day.

The 37-cent self-adhesive stamp will carry an image of a mother holding a child and carry a statement urging early testing for the disease.

“The Sickle Cell Disease Awareness stamp brings a greater understanding of the seriousness of sickle cell disease and the thousands of lives it affects, most of whom are African Americans,” said Henry Pankey, vice president, Emergency Preparedness, U.S. Postal Service.

More than 80,000 Americans, largely African Americans, are estimated to have sickle cell disease and more than 2 million Americans have the sickle cell trait, meaning they carry one copy of the gene for the disease. There is presently no cure for sickle cell disease, though many patients, given proper treatment, can lead fairly normal lives into their 40s and beyond. Researchers continue to look for a cure and for new, more effective treatments.

Sickle cell disease damages blood cells by changing them from smooth and round into sickle shapes and making them hard and sticky. This results in the blocking of blood flow and damage to organs. Complications can range from intense pain to stroke or death.

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